Thursday, July 28, 2011

10 Minute Ramble Update

My August:
  • Palo Alto, CA: Aug 1-3 (prep of 30(b)(6) deposition witness)
  • Seattle, WA: Aug 9-11 (taking depo of other side's 30(b)(6) witness)
  • Palo Alto, CA: Aug 15-17 (final prep and depo of our 30(b)(6) witness)
  • Somewhere, NC: Aug 17-19 (taking depo of other side fact witness)
  • Chicago, IL: Aug 24-26 (interviewing 2Ls at UChicago's OCI)
My today:

Claire sent home with a fever yesterday afternoon.  I dumped everything on my desk in a box and raced to daycare.  We snuggled and worked fairly well together. This morning she seemed all better, so we called back-up care and had a nanny come to the house to hang out with her while JP and I had crazy days at work.  I worked non-stop all day.  I drove home at 3:00 to check on Claire and give her more tylenol for what we assumed was teething.  She was super hot with a temp of 102.8.  She was happy when I arrived, sobbing when I left. I had a 5:30 call with the President and CEO of our client, the general counsel of our client, the general counsel of the parent company of our client, and our 30(b)(6) witness. I was the only person on the call from my firm and it took four days to get all these people to find 1 hour of time to talk to me.  I could not miss this call. I hated leaving Claire.  It was the first time in 3 years I honestly felt that working made me a bad mom.  The nanny was rocking and singing to her, I believed Claire was safe and being cared for as best anyone who isn't me or JP could do, but it just freaking sucked.  I got back to work, shook myself off, and prepped for the scariest call I've ever hosted by myself.  I got text updates from the nanny every 30 minutes telling me the Claire's fever was going down.  When the call began at 5:30 it was down to 100.2.  The call went well and I came home to a much perkier baby eating macaroni and cheese by the fistfull.  She's sleeping soundly with a temp of 99.5.

My internal struggle:

I hate that I left her this afternoon.

I hate that I'll be out of town over half the working days in August. 

I hate that because all my trips are during the week, I'm not actually missing that many hours with my kids.

I really like my job. I love that I'm getting the experience and responsibilities of a much more senior associate.   I love that I've earned my way to a spot on the core team of a complicated, sought after case outside my usual practice area. When I am in my office, I am completely happy 90% of the time.

I hate that it means I don't get to sleep and my DVR is full of shows I can't watch and I miss my kids so damn much.

A friend asked me yesterday if I thought I'd go part-time now that JP was working. I was shocked she thought I'd want to.  I don't. 

I don't know how to reconcile that with the fact that I also hate the borderline out-of-control litigation schedule I have right now and I really really hated that I had to leave Claire today.

I don't know.


  1. Litigation is awesome (even at a small firm, like I was). It is exhilarating and incredible and the highs are very high. I miss (most of) it, still. I was just thinking today about depositions and how I quit, basically when I'd gotten all the skills down. And what a waste.

    But it is so hard with little kids. I can't tell you how often I had sick P on the couch at my office, or playing on the floor of my office while I made as many calls as I could/met with clients. My boss was meeting with a registered sex offender one day and I had P in my office and he wanted me to go in his office, and I'm asking, "What are his parole conditions?" (He was allowed to be around children.) That was one of my "aha" moments.

    M and I had a deal where we would trade off who had to go home with the sick kid - we didn't have a nanny option - and that helped some. But it is just HARD.

    Anyway. No answers. Just sympathy and hugs from here.

    (Let me know if you want to take a day drip down to PDX!) :)

  2. AAL I would love a trip to PDX! (though perhaps not in the next month or two)

    Also, I'm not sure how my post came across (I wrote it start to finish in 7 minutes with no proofing), but I reflect so often on how incredibly lucky I am (we are) with regard to even attempting to make this work. We have a daycare we love that is near our house, I work 15 minutes from home, my firm provides back-up nanny care-- and it is STILL hard some days. So I don't want to pretend otherwise, but I also know that it could be so much harder.

    There's a line somewhere between acknowleding the difficulty and not faking that everything is perfect (i.e. I could have posted a cute picture of Claire and never mentioned I had to hand a sobbing Biscuit over to a temporary nanny so I could race back to work to fake my way through a call, and there's a part of me that still wants to do that now), and acting like I'm the only person who ever had to make a tough choice as a working parent. I don't know if I walk it the right way, but I hope this post (and what seems like way too many other posts lately) doesn't come across as anything more than a bit of introspection and a glimpse at a day where I'm not 100% okay with JP and my roles right now.

    I should also note that JP is taking the whole day off tomorrow and spending it with a recuperating Biscuit. He's so excited and I'm so happy for them both that I'm only a teensy bit jealous :)

  3. I enjoy your posts about how you guys are working things - not for any Schadenfreude reason, but because it *is* hard, and because you have the situation most people want - husband, career, kids - and it's important to know what that means - all of it. The sick days and all.

    Not just rainbow cupcakes and cute Biscuit. (Although I love that, too.) ;)

  4. You say it all, babe. I know just how you feel. I remember thinking that while I was doing my internship this summer it would be so great because I'd be home more. My babysitter works nearly double what she did when I was in school. And now, it will be internship PLUS classes. I don't know how I am going to do it. I feel like a terrible mom a lot, because I am the one making me work these hours. I LIKE doing it. It's a terrible thing to feel guilty for liking your job.

  5. Perfect timing on your thoughts, as usual. I am reading this from my hotel room in Boston as I mentally prepate to take my first "real" deposition. Excited for the opportunities, love the work, I miss my kid like nobody's business.

    On a side note, Palo Alto, whoo! Almost my neck of the woods (San Francisco). Good luck with all the traveling.

  6. I hope things are getting better - and yes, thankfully you like your job! That is where I always struggled, I never liked what I did when I was part-timing it, then I ended up resenting it.

    Anyway, I hope you are not being too hard on yourself. Regardless of the situation, there seems to always be something for us mamas to feel bad about!

    Here's to a healthy Biscuit and a great weekend for you!

  7. I'm glad that you wrote this, as well (though you may want to edit this - "I hate that because all my trips are during the week, I'm not actually missing that many hours with my kids." I don't think that's what you actually meant).

    Please don't take this as a judgement against you - it's totally NOT meant that way. But, I'm in a job that's not perfect. It's not horrible. It's okay. It's not exactly what I would love to be doing, but there are definitely parts of it that I love (and parts that I hate). But, it offers me a very flexible schedule, opportunities to work from home when I absolutely have to (like a sick child). I decided to stay in the job because of the flexible schedule, because it works for our family. But, I do often question myself - would it be better to be in a job that I absolutely love? And, for me, this post helped solidify that (and this is where the warning that I promise, I am NOT judging you comes in). For me, leaving a feverish child with someone would just not be an option. I would be so filled with guilt and angst that I would begin to really hate myself and really resent my job for forcing me to make that choice. And because I feel like I still need to further explain myself, so that this isn't coming across as I think I'm a better mommy than you (I don't), I fully acknowledge that this is simply my own preference and a line that I know, for me, is just different from your's. I also know that I have a really hard time reconciling internal guilt, etc.

    That's a really long comment to basically say thanks for sharing. It's hard. It sucks sometimes. And it's nice to know that others are dealing with the similar internal struggles.

  8. Hi Wendy, I don't take it as judgment. Everyone has different lines. If I'd actually thought Claire was dangerously sick, even the tiniest hint of something serious, I would have canceled the call without reservation. But it was just a fever and kids get fevers all the time. I had the nanny text me temperature updates every 30 minutes, the first one dropped over 1 full degree (after I gave C the ibuprofen) and by the time the call started she was barely over 100 and eating dinner and talking to her brother. Was I happy about it? No. But I wasn't actively worried either.

    I go back and forth on whether I should switch to an in-house or contract type job (the only other options for me in my practice area in Austin) with regular hours. As of today, I'm still on the side of "if I'm going to be away from my kids, I want it to be for something that I truly enjoy and that challenges me and makes me happy." We'll see where I fall on that line by the time this trial is done in October...

  9. Oh, also (sorry, obviously I need to be blogging more, my brain was clogged with random thoughts on my short drive to work), I think discussions like this are helpful for people on both sides of the spectrum. Wendy reads my day and thinks "I'm glad I've made the decisions I've made, I wouldn't do that." And I read her comment and I think, "I'm not (yet) where she is; I don't resent my job because of my call yesterday and I'm okay with the decisions I made." And, I don't feel defensive, I feel better. So thanks everyone, as always, for sharing your thoughts and stories. There's nothing like being reminded in size 10 ariel font that a million other parents doing this same thing.

    (Also, also, just because I have to complain about it - I typed a beautiful summary of our call last night, with separate task list for the participants, and when I went to email it to the clients at 11:45 p.m., it was gone. A 0 byte file was in its place. After a 30 minute call with our 24 hour tech support I accepted defeat and set about recreating it. I went to bed at 1:30 am. That I still came in to work with some level of excitement about the day also tells me a lot- even as I give my computer death glares.)

  10. One of the many benefits of working moms is that they are a role model for their children. Children who are raised watching both of their parents work are more likely to have a great work ethic themselves when they grow up. In addition, they, hopefully, watch their parents share the duties around the house so they understand how to create a loving and sharing home for their own children.

    There are many benefits for working moms. They are able to develop a sense of fulfillment and build their self confidence. They are role models for their children in how to balance a family and work.

    You are a amazing mother and your children know you love them, which at the end of the day, is the most important thing. Keep your chin up, you're doing everything right!

    ~Lindsey D (Colorado)

  11. Love this post. Traveling is hard. When jobs get interesting, e.g. VP level, mid-to-senrior and of course partner level associate, travel is required. But travel is the FUN part too - doing a deposition in a case for which you know the facts is one of the most rewarding things I have done as an attorney. Congrats.

    I agree with you re: kids get fevers all the time. I'm with you that it just doesnt really matter that you had a nanny with her for a few hours - she has probably already forgetten today. It's not going to affect Claire long-term at all, or even really too much short term. It might make *you* feel bad (and it does me, too, when it happens - isn't the backup care great? my firm has it too), but I guess as Wendy says it's a totally personal thing whether that guilt consumes you, or whether you can step outside of yourself for a minute and see that yes, kids get fevers all the time, it's fine. No judgment either way (and I like Wendy's tone), but ya, I think you're taking Sheryl Sandberg's view, that doing interesting things will keep you more engaged, and I agree with that view, at least for now.

  12. Poor Claire Bear... glad she's doing better!

    I'm sure it'll be a short trip to Chicago but would love to get a cup of coffee or a glass of wine if you've got a free minute while you're in town!

  13. Legally Fab, let's do it! My flight doesn't leave until 12:00 on Friday the 26th, so maybe coffee/breakfast? Or, depending how late you like to stay up, wine after our social event on the night of the 24th? I'll email you closer to confirm!

  14. I think alot of the difficulty is that as a lawyer, you have the utmost duty to your client. As a mom, you feel devoted to your children. They are both so hard to juggle. When both duties start to clash and both suffer is the time to reevaluate whether to continue the crazy life that a trial lawyer leads. A client deserves your focus, loyalty, and your best analysis to serve their needs. However, your children and husband deserve so much more and should always remain your primary concern. Do what you and your husband feel is best for your family and don't worry about what others do, have done, or say you should do. You are truly a remarkable young woman!

  15. I don't have much to add except that I think leaving a sick kid is one of the hardest things we have to do, and it always makes me feel like the world's crappiest mom. Luckily it doesn't happen too too often. Glad she's feeling better

  16. Traveling for work is tough. My husband is a pilot in the Air Force, and I never thought that when I took a job in BigLaw I was signing up for a lot of travel, too! I'm on an internal investigation that has us going to China in 2 week intervals. I've already had to go once and I am going again for the last 2 weeks of August and the last 2 weeks of September. We don't have kids yet, but it's really hard when the hubby is only home for 2.5 months at a time and I have to travel during his precious time home. If we had kids, this might be a dealbreaker for me. Being gone from home for 2 weeks at a time is not sustainable.


  17. Sooo... I have to say I was really excited to see you are coming to Palo Alto (I live in Mountain View, just down the peninsula), because for a moment there I forgot that we don't actually know each other and aren't BFFs. :)

    I read your blog all the time - I found it by googling "pregnant summer associate" a couple years back. Now I have an 8 month old and am starting in biglaw in a month! No advice on the balancing act, but you should know that your blog really makes me optimistic about being a working mom, even the "bad" times. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with us!

    And do let me know if you need a friendly face in P A!

    ~Devoted Reader

  18. wow... how busy are you? :-o

  19. Long time reader delurking to say I hope you get a bit of time to see a few things in Seattle! I assume your lawyerly duties will keep you quite busy but if you need any highlights recommended, let me know!